'Humans of New York' photographer helps students visit Harvard

BROWNSVILLE (WABC) -- Talk about good deeds. A local photographer is raising money so young elementary school students in Brooklyn can go to Harvard.

Go to Harvard not as college students, but touring the campus as 6th graders to help them dream big.

Hundreds of thousands is being raised to help pay for the trip for years.

"I got in trouble a lot. A lot," said Vidale Chastanet, a student.

Vidale Chastanet emphasizes the point, if only to show how much things change in a couple years. Just ask his principal.

Nadia Lopez is the principal of the Mott Hall Bridges Junior High School in Brownsville. She wants to take her students; she calls them scholars, to colleges. Indeed to Harvard, so they can know what's out there for them. So they can see what's out there for them if they work for it, but it's expensive.

"I want them to have that experience, and the idea of them just planting their feet in the place that they need to go just gives them the hope and the aspirations that it can indeed happen," Lopez said.

As it turns out, it was a chance encounter on the same gritty streets that so often restrict children's dreams that will allow so many children to dream bigger than they ever imagined.

"He asked if he could interview me, so I said, 'yes,'" Chastanet said.

The person asking for the interview was Brandon Stanton, who writes the popular "Humans of New York" blog. The interview about Vidale's hardscrabble life growing up in Brownsville, led to the Humans website asking for money so Ms. Lopez could take her scholars to visit Harvard. It worked!

"It's been amazing," Lopez said.

The site started Friday and has raised over $300,000 already, from all over the world.

"What's important to me, is that it's happening in Brownsville. We've been known as the murder capital of New York City, we've been known as the most dangerous place in New York City, and there are children who live here, there is a community that thrives, there are people who care," Lopez said.

The fundraising has been so successful, that everything raised over $350,000 will be used to fund a summer program for the students at the Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

For more information on how you can help please visit: http://bit.ly/1JmIB8u
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